Julie

If We Love God, Silence is Not An Option!

NOTE: This blog was originally published on June 26, 2015. In rereading it, I realized the truths the Lord led me to write at that time are even more vital for us to heed now as our culture has even more fully embraced the lies being perpetrated by those who are against God’s Word, His will, and His divine purpose for creating mankind in His image as ‘male and female’. From Drag Queen story hour at libraries throughout our nation to even elementary public schools’ curriculum promoting the LGBT lifestyle to churches with gay and lesbian clergy as well as ‘baptized parishioners’ to movies and popular TV shows promoting the LGBT lifestyle to the widespread promotion of PRIDE month every June, there is a preponderance of evidence that our nation has totally embraced the LGBT agenda. It is interesting to note that the LGBT movement coopted the rainbow— the well-known sign of God’s covenant promise to Noah after He destroyed those in Noah’s day whose pride led them to rebel against God, and that they have chosen the word PRIDE as their rallying cry, which is at the root of every sin and always ‘comes before destruction’ (Proverbs 16:18). It is also important to note that there is an increase in the assault against those who do not accept and endorse the LBGT lifestyle; they are labeled as bigots, intolerant, haters. Those who speak out against the movement make themselves ‘a prey’ (Isaiah 59:15) in the marketplace, and there are governmental entities at work to silence those who oppose the ‘politically correct’ LGBT agenda as well, as evidenced by California’s proposed bill AB 2943, which passed the CA Assembly in April and is expected to pass the state Senate before the end of summer. The UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech which was recently released could also impact the freedom of speech of those opposed to the LGBT lifestyle. We must recognize that the goal of Satan is always to silence the truth of God’s Word and His will…for it is the truth of the gospel that alone is able to set people free!

Since we are looking to celebrate another anniversary of our nation’s founding, and recently our Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage, I can’t help but reflect upon how drastically our nation has changed since my childhood. Freedoms—like the freedom of speech, religion, and the right to bear arms– that our God-fearing founding fathers sacrificed their livelihoods and even their lives to obtain, and that I and many have long taken for granted, are under attack and before long could be just a memory. We are definitely living in a day when that which is evil is being called ‘good’, and good is being called ‘evil’. (Isaiah 5:20) It is growing increasingly difficult to speak out against gay marriage in our nation without being accused of being intolerant, a bigot, a ‘hater’, or worse. As several florists, photographers, and bakers can already attest– and perhaps many more of us will find out– it can be very costly to take God at His Word and to refuse to condone ‘gay marriage’ —which in fact is an oxymoron since God created marriage and defined it as being between a man and a woman. (Genesis 2:24) Regrettably, the fear of real or imagined reprisal from family, friends, or even the government, is causing some professing Christians to remain silent on the subject of ‘gay marriage’ and the entire LGBT movement.

Others remain silent because they lack knowledge of what the bible has to say about the subject–whether because they are ‘unchurched’ or have not personally studied it or because their pastor avoids preaching on the topic; some are confused and not sure what they believe because what they hear in the mainstream media from certain religious leaders, politicians, Hollywood stars and other media personalities contradicts what they have been taught to believe and they do not feel confident that they know how to respond to this crucial issue which has temporal and eternal significance.

It is time that we as the Church—Jesus’ Bride– speak up and stand on and for the Word of God!

Rather than acquiescing to the accusation, “Who are you to judge someone else’s lifestyle?’ Christians need to make it clear that we are not judging anyone! We need to assert that we are not expressing our opinion. We are just agreeing with God, the Ultimate Judge, and what He has clearly stated in His Word regarding both the sanctity of marriage and the sin of same gender sexual relations. (I wholeheartedly agree with those who say we also must not remain silent on what God has to say about sexual relations between heterosexuals who are not married to one another!)

GZldyL6.jpg

Rather than remaining silent when people assert that a person who claims to be gay was born that way and has no choice in the matter, we need to speak the truth in love that since the fall of Adam and Eve ALL of mankind has been born with a sin nature and we all of us will continue in our sin unless we receive a ‘new’ nature. We need to share in love that it is only when a person receives a ‘new nature’ by being ‘born again’ through faith in Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross that ANYONE—whether they are ‘gay’ or ‘straight’, male or female, rich or poor, black, white, yellow, or red, or anything else that might distinguish individuals from one another—can have the power to overcome the temptation to sin. Praise be to the Lord Who gave us both the power to resist the temptation to sin and the power to overcome the penalty of our sin, which is death, through the power of the Holy Spirit Who’s at work in all who put their faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross!

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1st Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

We need to make it clear that homosexuality, being a lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, or any other choice regarding sexual behavior is not the ‘unforgivable sin’. The ‘unforgivable sin’ is refusing to receive the free gift of salvation that God offers through the death and resurrection of His beloved son Jesus.

So why should we focus on this particular sin? Why are we considering this sin rather than any number of other sins like fornication, adultery, lying, drunkenness, gluttony, or gossip? Because this sin– which not so long ago was considered ‘abnormal’ even by the American Psychiatric Association – is now being promoted as an acceptable ‘lifestyle’, even one that is to be embraced and celebrated. Those who label it ‘sin’ are increasingly under attack and considered to be an abomination, and pressured to adopt the culture’s view.

Why is it critical that we label sin for what it is rather than calling it our ‘choice’, our ‘lifestyle’, a ‘disease’, or something else?

First, we can call something anything we wish but our calling it something else does not make it so. Only God Who created and rules the world has the authority to call something sin, and He has already written in the bible what sin is. It is rebelling against Him and going against His Word. Both the New and Old Testament make it clear that same gender sexual relations is sin because it violates His commands and His will.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22 (See also Leviticus 20:13)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 (See also 1st Timothy 1:9-11; Romans 1:18-32; Jude 1:7)

how-can-i-know-god-exists-4-728.jpg

Secondly, if we ‘misdiagnose’ something we won’t know to take the necessary action to remedy the situation. For example, if I have swallowed something poisonous, I need to know what it was I swallowed in order to take the appropriate antidote. Similarly, I must recognize that I have sinned so that I will go to Jesus, the Great Physician, Who alone has the power to save me from my sin. If we do not label sin for what God clearly states that it is in His Word, then rather than going to Jesus to receive the forgiveness that He promises to all who confess their sin, we will continue in our sin and ultimately receive the penalty that our sin deserves—death and eternity in hell. In other words, if we refuse to acknowledge that our sin is indeed ‘sin’, we will not realize our desperate need for a Savior Who alone can ‘cure’ us from our sin.

Can you imagine being around a person who you know has an incurable disease, and choosing not to tell that person that you know there is an antidote for it? Could you stand by and do nothing as they or even others celebrate the person’s condition because they are ignorant of its fatal nature? Would a loving person say or do nothing if it was in his or her power to share the antidote that was the only way the person’s life could be saved?

Then how can we as Christians be silent when we know that belief in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross is the ONLY way that sinners can be saved? Wouldn’t remaining silent when you have the ability—as well as God’s command (Matthew 28:19)— to share the necessary and only way of salvation be the ultimate act of ‘hatred’? And, wouldn’t remaining silent also be an indication of your lack of love for God, Who expressed His lavish love for all of mankind by sacrificing His beloved Son Jesus to be the ‘antidote’ for mankind’s sin?

Are there some people who oppose gay marriage who hate those who are homosexual and lesbians? Regrettably, I am sure that there are some. But there is also a large number of people who oppose gay marriage and the entire LGBT ‘movement’ who do so because they love God, and they know that if they love Him they will support and obey His commandments, commandments which He gave for the good of all mankind. (John 14:15, 23)

Secondly, because they love God, they share His love for those who are homosexual, lesbian, and bi-sexual. It grieves them to think that if those who have succumbed to such sexual sin do not repent of it that they will spend eternity in hell. Those who truly love God and share His heart of love for others who are caught in sin—ANY and EVERY to kind of sin– will feel compelled to speak up and share the redemptive power of the gospel with them. They will also pray for them to be set free from their sin, and not deride them. Have you extended the love of God by sharing the gospel with anyone you know who has been taken captive by the sin of same gender sexual relations, or anyone who has bought our culture’s lies regarding other forms of sexual sin?

The real ‘haters’ are those who hate God and want to do away with the commands He has provided in the bible for our good because He loves us and knows what is best for us. They hate those who represent God and His Word because they have been deceived by Satan and falsely believe that those who oppose ‘gay marriage’ and the LBGT agenda want to keep them from something good. The truth is that those who oppose ‘gay marriage’ for biblical reasons want to protect those who identify as LGBT from the sorrow and destruction they will experience if they continue in their sin.

After God created the world and made Adam, He said that it was not good that Adam be alone. So He designed the perfect helpmate for him, a woman. A woman whom God designed in every way—including physically–to complement, or complete man. Then God gave them the joint assignment ‘to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth’. That was an assignment that neither could do alone; they needed each other. Clearly, God did not choose to put two men or two women together as two of the same gender could not have fulfilled His command to reproduce. God knew that the very best helpmate for man was woman, and that man was the very best helpmate for woman. Not just for reproductive purposes, but in His infinite wisdom He created them in His image– both men and women– to reflect different aspects of the triune Godhead and to assume different– but equally vital– roles. His plan for marriage was for man and woman to be united as one flesh, and to reflect the mystery of Christ’s love for and oneness with the Church. (Ephesians 5:22-35)

As Our Creator Who made us for His pleasure and glory (Isaiah 43:7), God alone has the right to define what marriage is, which He did in the beginning when He created man and woman for oneness and fruitfulness. Throughout the bible God reaffirms the role of marriage and the importance of family, and throughout the bible God consistently addresses the issue of same gender sexual relations as sin. His design for marriage and family has not changed, nor has His Word regarding same gender sex. Unfortunately, mankind has not changed either. Like Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden who doubted that God’s Word was for their protection and for their good, we too in our pride think we know better than God and we too rebel against His perfect word and will.

Satan’s successful ploy in the Garden of Eden was to get Eve and Adam to doubt the legitimacy of God’s love for them when He restricted them from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God was very clear in His instruction; there was no equivocation or room for doubt. Yet, Satan appealed to the desire of their eyes and the lust of their flesh. Rather than calling upon God to deliver them from their temptation, they gave into it. Unfortunately, all too often that has been the story of mankind ever since. Rather than believing that God loves us and that every command He gives us is for our good, we have doubted His love and falsely assumed that His commands are to keep us from something good rather than to protect us. Those who are caught up in the sin of same gender sexual relationships have bought the same lie that Adam and Eve did: the lie that God’s Word is not to be trusted and that they know what is better for them than God does.

God warned Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed His command that death would be the result. And it was. If people today rebel against His Word and do not repent and turn to Jesus, they will face the consequences of their sin too, which is death. (Romans 6:23) There will be consequences not only for those who themselves rebel against God, but also for the nation that turns its back on God’s commands (Psalm 9:17; Jeremiah 13:25; Ezekiel 14:13), which is also why we as Christians should be concerned about the direction of our nation and vocalize our opposition to laws that are made which are contrary to God’s commandments. We also must pray for those who have been taken captive by this sin to be open to hear God’s Word, and pray that we who know and love God will lovingly and boldly share with them how they too can be delivered from the power and penalty of sin and enjoy the peace that is only found in a life surrendered to God’s will.

In His love and mercy God made a way for Adam and Eve—and all of us who inherited their sin nature– to be fully reconciled to a Holy God. The question for each and every person regardless of their sexual ‘orientation’ or ‘preference’ is the same: Will you accept the free gift of deliverance from death that God has provided through trusting in Jesus’ death in your place on the cross, or will you choose an eternity in hell by rejecting the free gift He has provided? Will you live your life in rebellion against God’s commands, or in submission to them?

In this nation we have enjoyed the privilege of sharing our faith without fear of being fined, imprisoned, or facing physical suffering. We cannot be certain of how long we will continue to have that privilege; hostility toward Christian values in this country is growing more intense and increasing at an alarming rate, as is global persecution. I believe that you and I and all believers are at a crossroads where we are going to have to choose between the fear of man and the fear of the Lord. Are we going to stand on and for the Word of God, or are we going to bow down to ‘political correctness’? Do you love the applause of men—as the Pharisees did (John 12:43)—more than the praises of God? Are you more concerned about offending a Holy God, or of offending people who are ignorant of God’s Word or who purposely rebel against Him? Do you love yourself and your comforts more than you love the souls of those who will perish for all eternity if they do not turn to Jesus and repent?

God has put governmental authorities in place that we are to respect and obey. However, as we see from the example given in Acts 5:29 after Peter and John were told by the authorities that they were not to declare the gospel, Peter responded, “ We must obey God rather than men.” Is that your conviction too? Think how different history and even your life would be had the apostles remained silent because they were unwilling to face persecution for the sake of sharing the truth of God’s love and His commands in a hostile culture. The Holy Spirit in them compelled them to share the gospel regardless of the cost. Are you listening to and following the leading of the Holy Spirit, or are you responding to the world, your flesh, and the devil that conspire to keep you silent?

Jesus told us that if we followed Him that we would be persecuted; that we as His servants are not above our master who willingly suffered and laid down His life out of obedience to the command of His Heavenly Father. If we are persecuted for remaining faithful to God and to His Word, our response should be the same as Jesus’: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Jesus also said, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10) Have you considered that the greatest blessings of your life may be found in the days ahead in a culture that wishes to silence you, but desperately needs to hear the gospel message that you have been commanded to share?

If you love others– and especially if you love God– silence is not an option.


Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Got Regret? What to Do If You'd Like a 'Do-Over'

Another hour ticked away on the clock as I lay awake tossing and turning, going over and over again in my mind the purchase my husband and I had made earlier that day that was not able to be returned. We were stuck with our choice, like it or not.. I felt tormented by thoughts that we had made a foolish decision, one that we would regret. Had we been led by FOMO—the fear of ‘missing out’— on a good deal?  I knew that our choice was not ‘sinful’ per se, and that most people wouldn’t understand what I was feeling; however, I felt the weight of regret that we hadn’t truly sought the Lord’s counsel before making the decision. I was keenly aware that I always felt peace after making a decision where I knew that we’d been led by the Lord, which was in sharp contrast to the unrest I was feeling for having ‘jumped the gun’ before hearing a clear word from God. I knew the conviction I felt was good because it was a sign of the Holy Spirit at work in my life, and necessary to cause me to recognize where we ‘missed the mark’ so we would go back to God in repentance. However, I was also overwhelmed by a feeling that was far more than conviction; I was battling against Satan—the Accuser of the Brethren—who was working overtime to heap condemnation upon me, drown me in guilt, and create a breach in my relationship with God, my Heavenly Father.

As I considered the decision we had made—a decision that people make every day without giving a second thought to consulting God, it occurred to me that before becoming a Christian, I too had never bothered to seek the Lord’s guidance and wisdom on everyday— or even major— life decisions. Other decisions I had made throughout my life flashed before my mind, and I realized how often I could’ve avoided regret and heartache had I only sought the Lord and His counsel, rather than relying upon my own wisdom! As a committed believer for over 25 years who knows the joy of walking with the Lord and relying upon Him and His counsel, I was grief-stricken that I had fallen prey once again to my presumptuous sin of pride, for it was pride that was at the root of our not consulting the Lord. As I lay there tossing and turning that night, I pictured Jesus dying for every one of my sins, including my sin of doing things ‘my way’ rather than looking to and following Him Who is ‘The Way’. Oh, what a merciful Savior we have whose blood shed on the cross covers our sins of commission, but also our sins of omission— like operating in our own wisdom and understanding rather than seeking the Lord’s wisdom and counsel before making decisions!

So, what about you? Have you ever made a decision that you later regretted? A time when you sorely wished you could have a ‘do-over’? Maybe you bought what you thought was your ‘dream home’, but it turned out to be a money pit instead. Or perhaps you moved from a small town to a big city hoping for ‘great adventure’, but once the newness of the big city wore off you regretted leaving your family and friends. Or maybe you took a job you really didn’t want because you felt desperate for the income, but once on-the-job, you felt stuck there when the job market changed. Or, maybe you bought a used car and it turned out to be a lemon. Or,  perhaps you bought a non-returnable, expensive dress while on vacation but you never lost the weight you’d hoped to so it  remained unworn in your closet. Or, far more importantly, maybe you raised your children based upon the world’s wisdom or in your own understanding rather than according to God’s instructions as found in the Bible, and you now so regret that you have ‘reaped what you have sown’. Whatever the decision you made that you later regretted, you may look back now and think, as I did: What if I had consulted the Lord and not relied upon my own understanding before making that decision? Perhaps you would’ve made the same decision, perhaps not. However, if you’d first consulted the Word of God and obeyed His leading, you would have had the peace of knowing that God, Who is All Knowing and All Wise, had led you to make the decision, and you would have been able to rest in that knowledge and assurance, even if the results were not what you might have desired. His ways are ALWAYS the right and best ways, even when we can’t understand them from our limited perspective!

Trust in the Lord.jpg

So, what should you do once you realize that you relied upon your own wisdom rather than upon God’s and you made a decision you now regret:

1) Turn to God and ask Him to forgive you for not consulting Him, for trusting in your own wisdom rather than seeking and putting your faith in His wisdom. I encourage you to picture yourself going to God as your Heavenly Father and pour your heart out to Him. I know that when I pictured doing that during the night when I was ‘tossing and turning over my decision, I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me, “You know that your earthly father would forgive you for not consulting him, so how much more will your Heavenly Father forgive you?”(Matthew 7:11) Peace flooded my soul as I sensed His lavish grace extended to me!

2) Receive and live in the reality of the forgiveness that the Lord purchased for you on the cross, and do not allow Satan to torment you with guilt for your decision once you’ve acknowledged your sorrow to the Lord. When Satan comes in ‘like a flood’ to heap condemnation upon you, remind him that you are a blood-bought child of God who is fully forgiven, and that NOTHING can separate you from the love of your heavenly Father!

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death….

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:1-2,38-39 ESV

Also, remind Satan that God is able to make something beautiful even from your poor choices—like using them to remind you of how desperately You need God’s wisdom, and to remind you that God loves you so much that He sent Jesus to pay the price for your every bad decision even before it was ever made! The purchase that I had regretted making so much that night has now become a daily reminder to me of God’s Father’s heart for me and His unwavering grace in my life!

3) Be prepared and willing to face the consequences of a decision you made based upon your wisdom rather than God’s. Yes, you are forgiven by God and your sin is removed ‘as far as the east is from the west’ (Psalm 103:12), but that does not necessarily mean that you won’t endure some painful consequences for acting in your own understanding rather than seeking God’s. In fact, the consequences we face can be the very instrument of God’s grace in our life that He uses to humble us and cause us to become more reliant upon His always trustworthy counsel. Make sure to inquire of the Lord and obey His leading as you go through whatever consequences you may have to face for the decision you made. For example, I know a couple who purchased what they thought was the best home in their area for the price they could afford—they leaned on their own understanding— but after the purchase they encountered major issues that could be very costly. Besides pouring their heart out to the Lord and asking for His forgiveness for not seeking His wisdom prior to their purchase, they need to invite God into their current situation, seek His counsel, and rely upon His wisdom as they respond to the consequences of the house choice they made. 

4) Determine in the future to seek the Lord’s counsel before making decisions, and ask God to convict you every time you act as if your life  and your resources are ‘yours’, rather than His. Remind yourself that you have been created by God for His purpose and His glory, bought with the blood of Jesus so ‘your life’  really belongs to Him, and it is only by His power that you ‘live and move and have your being’. (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Corinthians 6:20;Acts 17:28) Invite God to come into and take over every area of your life so that you are always trusting in Him rather than in yourself and your limited understanding.

5) Praise God that His grace abounds and that He is rich in mercy! Praise Him that every sin, every poor choice you have ever made or will ever make was laid at the cross and covered by the blood of Jesus and you bear your sin no more! And praise Him that He can work ALL things together for your good—even the poor choices you have made based upon your human understanding, and even the poor decisions you may make in the future (Romans 8:28) In fact, our poor decisions showcase our desperate need for God’s wisdom! If we desire to be wise and want what’s best for us, we will learn from our poor choices that we need to fully trust in and rely upon God at all times and for all of our decisions, for He will lead us in paths of righteousness for our good, and for His name’s sake! (Psalm 23:3)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. 

It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV

Lord, forgive me for the many times I have failed to consult you before making a decision. Forgive me for my pride that assumes that I don’t need You, or that I know more or better than You, and my rebellion that sometimes wants things ‘my way’ rather than Your way. I acknowledge that You are All Knowing, All Wise, Lavish in Your Love, and that Your ways are always so much higher than mine! I need You, Lord, oh, how I need You, every hour I need You! Help me to trust You at all times and for all things. I praise You for Your unconditional love, and that You are able to make all things beautiful and something that declares Your glory, even the ‘ashes’ of my poor choices!  Amen.

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Are You a Joy-Robber or a Joy-Giver?

As I hung up the phone after listening to a litany of complaints from a friend who’s a self-described ‘stress-mess’, I was aware that the lengthy conversation that solely focused upon her ‘trials and tribulations’ had a draining effect upon me. My heart certainly went out to her as she’s gone through several challenging ‘life issues’ in a short period of time, and I definitely understood why she felt so down and discouraged. As she shared, I imagined her as a person who’d been swept up by the ocean’s undertow who comes up for air, thinks they can finally breathe and get solid footing again, but instead gets taken under by the next crashing wave. Maybe you’re feeling that way too. Are you someone who has become weighed down by the trials and tribulations in your life and feel that you have lost your joy? Or, do you know of such a person?

 I don’t know anyone in the world who would ask to be put through really tough situations or experience a lot of suffering, do you? And most people are far more adept at finding things to complain about—even when things are going well overall in their lives-- than they are at finding things for which to be thankful. So it is truly a rarity to find a person who is full of joy in the midst of suffering. 

 This past weekend I was blessed to attend a ‘celebration of life’ service for a precious 48 year-old woman who lived her life fully for the purpose for which she was put on this earth—the glory and praise of her Savior and Lord Jesus! She battled ovarian cancer for over 3 ½ years, experiencing excruciating pain during the last several months of her life as her entire body was riddled with cancer. Despite her pain, she always wore a huge smile that radiated her love for the Lord and for others. She didn’t waste her time complaining about her health, on shaking her fist at God for ‘cutting her life short’, on grumbling ‘Why me, Lord?’ or on succumbing to despair and depression. She knew her life ‘was not her own’ and her purpose was to glorify God with her whole life (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), so she entrusted it completely into the almighty and always loving care of her Heavenly Father. Her focus was upon glorifying God and serving others even in the midst of her pain and suffering. All of those who knew her well testified that she exhibited joy throughout her life, joy which could not be extinguished by her diagnosis, or her pain and suffering. 

 Her life testified to the truth of the statement made famous by John Piper: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”. She was fully satisfied with God, even when her life didn’t go as she would have chosen, and her satisfaction and joy in Him led others to experience joy in her presence, and caused them to draw near to and glory in the God whom she loved. Her joy in the Lord also brought comfort and peace to her husband of 25 years, her beloved mother-- who is a dear friend of mine-- and to her three brothers and countless nieces and nephews, her church family, and her countless friends. Her joy and praising of God in the midst of her suffering not only gave her strength to carry on till the end of her life on earth, but it also was uplifting and life-giving to all those who knew her! 

the-joy-of-the-lord-is-my-strength-blog-title-2-2.png

 God longs for us to praise Him-- not because He is an egotist, but because He knows that when we fix our eyes and thoughts upon Him we will be ‘lifted above our circumstances’ and realize that there is nothing too big for God! He inhabits the praises of His people; when we praise God we are taken into His Presence, where there is indeed fullness of joy! (Psalm 22:3; Psalm 16:11) We need that joy at all times, but especially when we are going through tough times! We must press through and overcome our natural tendency to focus upon ourselves and our circumstances and lift up praises to God—even, and especially-- when we don’t ‘feel like it’. When we praise Him and enter into His presence, we will find that the joy of the Lord will be our strength that will enable us to endure amidst the trials and tribulations we face. (Nehemiah 8:10)

 You might say, “But Julie, you don’t understand what I’m going through!” Perhaps your marriage is rife with conflict. Or you have a prodigal child. Or you have financial difficulties that you can’t see how to solve. Perhaps you’re in poor health, or even have a terminal diagnosis. Maybe you’re feeling like the world’s falling apart all around you and there’s nothing you can find for which to be thankful and to praise God.

 I’m sure I don’t understand all that you’re going through, nor do I need to. But I can assure you that God understands your situation completely, He’s there by your side, and He’s bigger than whatever is overwhelming to you. He longs for you to BELIEVE that truth so you will go to Him, so that you will praise Him, and so that you will find joy in His Presence…the joy that will be your strength to carry you through your circumstances, and the joy that will be contagious and cause others to look to God, the Source of your joy! 

 There is so much wisdom in the expression, “What you focus upon expands.” If your focus is upon how horrible your circumstances are, that thought will begin to consume you and ‘take you under’, like the undertow in the ocean. Being consumed with thoughts of yourself and your circumstances means you can’t simultaneously be focused upon God or upon serving and ministering to others. The reality is that if you are self-absorbed you won’t have joy yourself, and will be a ‘joy-robber’ instead of a ‘joy- giver’. Newsflash: no one enjoys being around someone whose sole focus is on him or her self, particularly if they spend a lot of time complaining and grumbling about their life! People love to be around people who are full of joy, not full of woe! For our good and God’s glory we are commanded to love God and to love others, which means being God and other focused rather than self-focused, (Matthew 22:36-40) We are also commanded to continually praise God, for our sakes as well as for His glory-- and there is always something for which to be grateful! (Psalm 34:1; 104:33; 113:3; Philippians 4:4)  I am so inspired as well as convicted by the story of Corrie ten Boom’s sister Betsie who praised God for the fleas in the beds in the German concentration camp where the sisters were taken, because the fleas kept the guards away and allowed them to share the gospel with other prisoners. That is definitely keeping a ‘God and other focus’ instead of succumbing to self-focus, and a clear demonstration of rejoicing in the midst of ‘trials and tribulations’!  How could she have such joy in the midst of such suffering? Because she firmly believed and stated: "There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still." (from the book The Hiding Place)

 Would those who know you best say that your focus is more on yourself and upon your circumstances, or upon praising God and serving others? Are you a joy-robber, or a joy-giver? How joyful are you when your focus is on yourself and on your circumstances?  Contrast that to the joy you have when you are keeping your eyes fixed upon God and praising Him and serving other people. 

 What are some things for which you can praise God, no matter what your circumstances are? 

 Praise Him for Who He is: consider His attributes…like Almighty, Beautiful beyond description, Creator, Deliverer, Everlasting, Faithful, Etc. Something I love to do and encourage you to do is to praise God for an attribute of His for every letter in the alphabet.

 Praise God that you are not alone: that He is your constant companion, with you at all times and He will never leave or forsake you. And nothing is impossible for Him!

 Praise Him for His gifts to you: Think of all that you do have because He is the ‘giver of every good and perfect gift’! (James 1:17) ! Thank Him for things like the air you breathe, your ability to see, smell, touch, hear and walk; for a roof over your head; a warm place when it’s cold or a cool place when it’s hot; running water; a bed with a mattress; food to eat; freedom to worship; medical care; your family and friends; etc. Try to come up with 5 different things every day for which to thank and praise God and you will become more aware of the myriad of blessings all around you…which will ‘keep your head above water’ and you won’t feel so overwhelmed when the waves come crashing on you…you will even be able to praise Him for the waves, and the strength He gives you to surf upon them rather than to be crushed by them! 

 Lord, help me to keep my eyes fixed upon You, and not to fix them upon my circumstances and myself. Help me to see all around me the blessings that I daily take for granted; train my eyes and heart so that I see something new each and every day for which I can praise You! And when I even begin to grumble about my circumstances, immediately turn my eyes back onto You, the giver of every good and perfect gift and remind me that You know, are bigger than, and are able to meet my every need! Thank You for the trials and tribulation in my life which I know You can use to conform me into Your image if I will keep my focus upon You and praise You regardless of my situation. May I be found faithful to rejoice at all times, and especially in the midst of suffering, so that others will see that You are the Source of my strength and be drawn to You, the One Who is worthy of all honor, praise and glory!

Written by Julie 


Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

The Key to Having Peace, Joy, and Supernatural Strength

 I have found that all too often professing Christians give lip service to the word of God. Why do I say that? Many Christians say they believe God is sovereign, good and trustworthy, but they don’t really believe that. If they did, they would experience the peace, joy and strength that are promised to those who fully put their trust in Him. How do I know that? Because I was one of those people who professed a belief in God but my life belied my words; the fruit of my life then was anxiety, stress, exhaustion, and lack of inner peace and joy. God was a slice of my life, but He wasn’t my life! I have experienced the difference between saying I believe in and trust God, and truly trusting Him and living in complete dependence upon Him. It’s like the difference between an empty cup and a cup that’s not just filled with but actually overflowing with peace, joy, and supernatural strength!

My life has radically changed since I surrendered it to the Lord over 25 years ago. Before that I would have said that I believed in God’s Word and in Jesus as my Savior. However, I didn’t really know God or His word and my life sure wasn’t focused upon Him or upon doing His will. My life was 'me' focused, it was all about doing 'my' will and living for my pleasure rather than 'God focused', about doing His will, and living for His pleasure. That kind of living led me to where such a lifestyle will always and inevitably lead—to stress, worry, and fear because eventually you find out that there are things in this world that are WAY beyond your ability to control! Like job losses. Broken relationships. A poor health diagnosis. Loss of loved ones. And as long as we are deceived into thinking we are in control of our lives and that we know what is best for us, we will be in a state of striving to control what we cannot, and therefore we will be unable to experience the peace, joy, and rest that God longs for us to have. Peace we can have through Jesus regardless of our personal circumstances, and regardless of what is going on in our nation or the world. That kind of peace can only be found by putting our lives into God’s far more capable hands, and trusting Him for every aspect of our lives. 

I discovered the key to experiencing peace, joy, contentment and supernatural strength when I finally came to the ‘end of myself’ and cried out to God, telling Him I was done living my life ‘my way’ and that I was ready to live it ‘His way’. I chose to take refuge in Him and to submit to His authority over my life; as I did, I found that He can be depended upon for He is sovereign, all wise, all knowing, faithful and true, and always at work for my good. When you know His character, you will trust Him fully, and when you trust Him fully, you will experience His perfect peace.

You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation]. Isaiah 26:3 Amplified

perfect+peace.jpg

This verse emphasizes that in order to experience perfect, constant peace that your mind must be steadfastly fixed upon the Lord. It is not glancing at the Lord every now and then; it is keeping your gaze upon Him. And it is having the confident expectation that God WILL do what He says He will do! It is knowing that God cannot fail, for His very nature is love, and love never fails! (John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:8)

 God has never once failed me since I have put my trust in Him! I have found that as I have kept my eyes fixed upon Him and counted on His faithfulness and His goodness-- even when I haven’t understood His ways-- I have been flooded with His peace. 

 Over the last year and a half my husband and I have faced a situation that we would never have chosen. Had we gone through this same set of circumstances before we surrendered our lives to the Lord, I am certain we would have been ‘basket cases’; FULL of worry, anxiety, and fear. But I can attest that when we learned of the situation, our initial response was, ‘This didn’t catch God by surprise even if it did us.’ Then we prayed together and declared, ‘We can trust the Man Who died for us to give us everything we need!’ (Romans 8:32) And He has! We not only have had peace, but we have also had joy in the midst of this trial. We rejoice in knowing God can be nothing other than faithful, for that is His very nature! It is truly the trials of life that stretch our faith, and reveal what we really believe. I am so grateful for this time of testing and ‘waiting upon the Lord’! We have gained a deeper revelation of God and His totally trustworthy character, and we have grown deeper in love with Him! 

 Our daily ‘bread’ has been His Word that has nourished us. Matthew 6:11; John 6:33

 God has been our refuge and our strength, our very present help, and the Rock upon whom we have leaned for strength. Psalm 46:1 

Our eyes have been fixed upon Him, knowing He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2

 Our lips have declared His praises and made us aware of His Presence, for He inhabits the praises of His people. Psalm 22:3

 Our ears have been attuned to hearing His voice giving us His direction as to what we should do. Isaiah 30:21; Proverbs 3:6

 We have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and that blessed are those who take refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8

Not long after I gave my life to the Lord someone asked me what my favorite verse was. I remember telling them it was Isaiah 40: 31. I had head knowledge of the verse at that time, but now I have experienced the truth of this passage that assures us that when we know we have no strength apart from Him, that He will give us His strength and renew us by His power! He has been so faithful to do this for me, and I want to testify to His goodness, and to not only the peace and joy that is found in Him, but the strength that is found in Him as well!

 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become tired or grow weary;
There is no searching of His understanding. 
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power. 
Even youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired. Isaiah 40:28-31

 Are you experiencing the ‘peace that surpasses all human understanding as you keep your heart and mind on Christ Jesus’? (Philippians 4:7) Have you experienced the joy of truly surrendering your life to Christ, of totally trusting Him and allowing Him to ‘take over’ your life? Are you weary, and do you need the strength that is found in Him alone? 

 Lord, I have been guilty of saying I trust you when in fact I have been putting my trust in myself and in my way of doing things rather than really trusting You. I long to have the peace, joy, contentment and strength that is found when my mind is steadfastly fixed upon you and continually expecting you to do what only You can do. Help me to truly ‘let go’ of thinking I am in control or that my ways are higher than yours, and by your grace at work in my life empower me to completely release my life into your unfailing, loving care! Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief! And give me an insatiable desire to be in your Word so that I might grow in my knowledge of You so that I can know that You are always faithful and true! Amen 

 If you would like to know more about surrendering your life to God and how to be set free from fear, worry and anxiety, please reach out to us at https://www.trueviewministries.org/contact

Written by Julie 

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

This One Thing Can Transform Your Marriage 

After almost 40 years of marriage I have learned a lot of things I should not to do, and several things I should do, if I want a God-glorifying, satisfying marriage. But there is one thing that I have learned that is most important if I am to have the marriage that I truly desire, and that God longs for me to have. My marriage, like most Christian marriages, started in front of a church altar. There we said our vows before God and the attendees. I know there was a brief sermon as well as prayers that emphasized the importance of God in our marriage; however, at the ripe old age of 23 we were so ‘star stuck’ and convinced that our love for each other was all we needed for a great marriage that I know we didn’t tune into the pastor’s words, or much of any other wise counsel given to us at the time. I think many marriages start off the same way ours did: a perfunctory acknowledgement of God’s role in the marriage, and then shortly after the wedding vows have been uttered, living as if the marriage is just between and dependent upon the two of you. 

 It is good to recognize the need for God to be at the center of your marriage at your wedding ceremony, but it’s far, far more important to realize your need for Him every minute, every hour and every day of your marriage. As we grow in our maturity in Christ, we recognize more and more the truth of God’s Word that, ‘apart from Him we can do nothing’ (John 15:5). That is as true in our marriage as it is in our individual lives; we desperately need to be aware of our need for God to be ‘front and center’ in our marriage if we desire it to be all that God intended it to be when He instituted this special union. Since He’s the one who came up with the idea of marriage, you can be confident that He’s the greatest authority and expert on marriage in the world. He’s also the greatest advocate you could ever have for your marriage. He’s for you, He’s for your spouse, and most of all-- He’s for your marriage! And, He’s available to you 24/7—and at no charge! God alone has the power to transform you, to transform your spouse, and to transform your marriage! He is able to redeem your marriage, to sustain it, and to enhance it!  All He asks is that you choose to entrust it to Him!

The best way for you to know that you are entrusting your marriage to
God is to do this one thing: invite Him to come into and take over your marriage. What do I mean by that? I mean that you pray and commit every aspect of your marriage into God’s expert, tender, loving care, and His almighty power! The marriage that is fully surrendered to God and to His will for it will enjoy the greatest intimacy, mutual love and respect, and the joy of ‘oneness’ that God intends for it to have.

I encourage you to pray the prayer below— or a similar one— with your spouse. If he/she is unwilling to pray with you, or you don’t feel comfortable even approaching them about praying it with you at this time, I encourage you to pray it on your own for your marriage. God is waiting to be asked to intervene on behalf of your marriage! We have a miracle-working God Who is not only able to fix ‘broken people’, but also to heal, restore, and redeem ‘broken or troubled relationships’! Trust Him: He is more than able!

d76725ff3182ce177b9c647a27e478c7.jpg

 Entrust your marriage to God, and see what He can and will do!

 Lord, I confess that my spouse and I have ignored the reality that we desperately need you to be at the center of our marriage. All too often we have tried to accomplish our will for our lives rather than to ask you to reveal to us Your will; often we have done things ‘our way’ rather than Your way and we have reaped the consequences of leaving you out of our lives. Lord, I/we invite you to come into our marriage and to completely take it over. Into your hands, I/we commit my/our marriage and ask you to do what only you can do: redeem where it needs to be redeemed; sustain us where we need to be sustained; enhance that which is good. Thank You Lord for Your love for me and for my spouse, and for your desire for our marriage to be a union that reflects your love. I/we desire for our marriage to be all that You created it to be, and I/we ask You to give me/us the faith to believe that You are able to transform our lives and our marriage into something beautiful for Your glory and kingdom purposes! Oh, Lord, how we need you! Please come into our marriage and take it over so that it is all that you created and desire it to be! Into Your hands I/we commit our marriage. Amen.

If you feel inadequate and need more wisdom, knowledge and understanding…ask God to give you the desire to read His Word (the bible), the Source of all truth, wisdom, knowledge and understanding…Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit my/our need for wisdom, knowledge and understanding and open up our minds to Your truth, guidance and instruction

If you are having communication issues…ask God to give you His ears to hear your spouse, to give you His words for you to speak to your spouse in a way that your spouse will hear you, and to give you His heart of love for your spouse…Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit what and how we communicate with one another

 If you are having issues with physical, emotional, or spiritual intimacy…ask God to give you His perspective on your spouse so that you can be a vessel through which His love flows through you and meets the physical and emotional needs of your spouse…Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit our physical, emotional, and spiritual issues

 If you are having financial issues…ask God to take over your situation and to show you what, if anything, you should be doing to address the issue, and to trust Him as Your Provider…Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit our financial situation/issues

 If you are having issues with your children…ask God to give you and your spouse His wisdom and His heart, mind and spirit regarding how to raise/respond to your children...Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit our children’s lives, and how we are to raise, counsel/coach them

 If you are having issues with in-laws/family members/friends…ask God to give you His heart of love for the people involved and to respond to them with His truth, wisdom and love…Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit our issue/s with our family and friends

 If you feel weary and overburdened...ask God to give you His strength, patience and perseverance...Lord, into Your loving and capable hands we commit our bodies, souls, and spirits

 If you feel fearful for the future…ask God to increase your faith in Him so that you will grow confident that He is over and above every circumstance that you are facing today and that will arise in the future...Lord, into Your loving and capable hands we commit our lives and our future

Once you have committed your marriage into the Lord’s hands, I encourage you to listen to His leading, ask Him to give you the ability and faith to do what He has called you to do, and then obey Him and rely upon His power to work in you. If you find that you try to ‘take back’ that which you have committed to God and to do things your way again rather than His, immediately confess it to Him, and recommit it into the Lord’s hands. Remember, God loves you with an unfailing love; He has a plan for your marriage; and He is available to help you at all times. He is more than able to make your marriage ALL that you desire it to be…and even better than you can possibly imagine!

 Written by Julie

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

How to Extinguish Fear and Feed Your Faith While Waiting for A Miracle

When I was a young girl and heard Bibles stories like God parting the Red Sea for the Israelites; David slaying the giant Goliath; Daniel surviving the lions’ den; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego coming out unscathed from the fiery furnace; Jesus healing lepers, paralytics, the blind, deaf, and dumb and raising the dead, I was enthralled by those stories of God’s miraculous power. I didn’t doubt for a minute God’s ability to work such miracles, and I vividly remember thinking, “How amazing it would be to be a part of such a story!” “I’d love to experience such a miracle in my own life!” 

Have you had similar thoughts? Maybe you’ve had friends or family who’ve experienced the miraculous power of God through something like healing from a life-threatening illness, deliverance from a drug addition, surviving a horrific car wreck, or a totally unexpected and positive overturn of their financial situation. Did you ever think, “Wow! I’d love to be a part of a miracle story too!” Or, maybe you’ve been the subject of one of God’s miraculous stories.

Godwillmakeaway.jpg

What I didn’t take into consideration when I heard the Bible stories—and what you also might not have considered when you’ve heard stories of God’s power-- is that before a miracle can occur, the recipients of the miracles first must face a time of great trial, a testing of their faith, and the temptation to succumb to fear and doubt. For instance, the Israelites were fleeing a huge, well-trained army when they came upon the Red Sea where there was no apparent way forward. David had to overcome the mocking of his brothers and the entire Israeli army who wanted to undermine his belief that he would defeat the giant. Daniel had to contend with the continual envy of his peers who plotted against him. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had to decide whether they’d disobey and dishonor God by worshipping an earthly king, or obey God and face the real possibility of dying a horrible death in a blazing hot fire. Everyone whom Jesus healed beforehand had experienced the suffering of physical pain or the emotional pain of being an outcast. We all would like to be a part of a miracle; however, we usually don’t want to sign up for the circumstances that must necessarily precede the working of that miracle! 

I am waiting on the Lord to show Himself faithful in a situation in my life right now where a miracle is needed. I fully believe God is capable of working the miracle. But I am also keenly aware of the temptation to succumb to fear and doubt; I feel that I am living in a crucible where my faith is being tested and refined. I know that if I focus on the circumstances of my situation--the ‘what ifs’—I will be tempted to doubt God’s goodness or His miracle-working power. So as I wait upon Him, I have a choice: I can feed my faith, or I can feed my fears. I cannot feed them both as fear and faith cannot co-exist. You have the same choice. What will you choose?

·    I am choosing: To keep my focus upon God Who is the ‘Author and Perfecter of my faith’, and over and above my every circumstance. (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:12) I am praising Him for orchestrating the circumstances of my life so that my faith— which is more precious than gold— will be strengthened, and so that the stage is set for a miracle to occur! (1 Peter 1:7)

·    I am choosing: To rejoice in knowing that the trial I am going through is an instrument of God’s grace, and thank Him for this trial which was designed to test my faith, produce steadfastness in me, and cause me to grow more and more into His image, complete and lacking nothing. (James 4:2-4)

·    I am choosing: To praise Him for His faithfulness and love, and to thank Him for interceding for me, that my faith would not fail. (Hebrews 7:25; Luke 22:32)

·    I am choosing: To praise God for His perfect timing; He is never ahead or behind, but ALWAYS comes through in the ‘fullness of time’! (Galatians 4:4; Romans 5:6; 1 Timothy 2:6)

·    I am choosing: To praise God that His thoughts and ways are not my thoughts and ways, His are infinitely greater because He is infinitely wiser than I! (Isaiah 55:9)

·    I am choosing: To commit my will to God’s will, pray and pour out my heart to  Him, and listen to His Spirit speak to me! (Psalm 37:5; Psalm 62:8; Psalm 25:14; Daniel 2:22)

·    I am choosing: To trust in the Lord and not lean upon my own understanding, to look for every path God may open before me--and as doors open—make sure to inquire of Him whether that is the way He would have me to go. ( Proverbs 3:5-7; 1 Chronicles 10:14; 2 Samuel 5:19, 23)

·    I am choosing: To immediately renew my mind in the truth of Who God is and what He is able to do every time a fearful thought or doubt about God’s faithfulness arises! (2 Corinthians 10:5) Truth such as that God is with me at ALL times, that He will never leave me or forsake me, and that He is ‘mighty to save’! (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 43:2; Zephaniah 3:17)

·    I am choosing: To trust in Jehovah Jireh, the God Who will provide for ALL of my needs according to His glorious riches (Genesis 22:14; Philippians 4:19) and Who knows me best, loves me most, and is ‘always at work for my good and His glory’! (Romans 8:28)

·    I am choosing: To feed my faith by reading the Bible daily, by reading devotionals like Streams in the Desert and My Utmost for His Highest, as well as biographies of heroes of faith to remind me that God is ALWAYS trustworthy and ALWAYS unfailing in His love. (Psalm 52:8; 85:7; 119:41; Revelation 3:7; 19:11)

·    I am choosing: To not listen to grumblers, complainers, faith and joy ‘robbers’. (Psalm 28:7; Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 2)

·    I am choosing: To share my need for a miracle with others whom I know will join with me in prayer and lift me and my need up to the Lord. (Exodus 17:11-12; 1 Timothy 2:1; James 5:16; Galatians 6:2)

Faith means taking God at His Word. As you feed your faith by reading the Bible -- the Word of One Who cannot lie and that is filled with accounts of His miracle working power—you will be convinced that NOTHING is impossible for God! (Numbers 23:19; Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; Luke 1:37; Matthew 19:26) And I’m confident that your faith will result in you seeing the miraculous hand of God at work on your behalf, and you’ll find yourself at the center of your own miraculous story that will in turn build up the faith of others in the Body of Christ! 

What about you? Are you waiting upon God to act on your behalf in some situation in your life, or in the life of a loved one? How are you choosing to spend your time as you wait upon Him? Are you feeding your fears, or feeding your faith? Was there a particular choice (or choices) that I am choosing to make that God convicted that you need to be making as well?

Written by Julie

 

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Could this Fear Be Affecting Your Witness?

It can be easy to identify the fear of flying, or of spiders, or of heights, or other fears that seem tangible. As prevalent as those fears may be, I think most people struggle with a fear that they’re often unaware of, and that can have a major impact upon their daily life. And it most definitely is a fear that can impact our Christian witness; especially in these days of ‘political correctness’ when being a Christian is highly unpopular. It is a fear that must be overcome if we are going to obey God and live for His glory. That fear is the ‘fear of man’.The ‘fear of man’ is rooted in our pride and desire for others—especially those we like, or those we fear due to what they could do to us-- to approve of us. It is a fear that often leads us to remain silent when we should speak; to skirt telling the truth or lie; to engage in behavior we might not otherwise so that others will accept us; and it can lead to sleepless nights or daytime anxiety due to our fear that we may have offended someone who will no longer like us and may in fact cause us harm. Can you identify with this fear? I certainly can! 


proverbs29_25.jpg

 The Bible is replete with stories of those who also had this fear. Abraham, the ‘Father of Faith’, instructed Sarah, his half sister but also his wife, to tell Pharaoh that she was his sister rather than his wife due to his fear that Pharaoh might kill him (Genesis 12:12). Isaac followed his father Abraham’s example and lied to the men of Gerar by saying his wife Rebekah was his sister because of his fear that those men would kill him to gain her (Genesis 26:6-10). Saul disobeyed God’s instruction given to him through the prophet Samuel to kill Agag, as well as all of the Amalekites and their animals, because  (1 Samuel 15:24) he ‘feared the people and obeyed their voice’. 

 One of the saddest—and most convicting-- passages in the Bible to me is found in John 12:42-43:

 Nevertheless, even many of the leading men believed in Him [as Savior and Messiah], but because of the Pharisees they would not confess it, for fear that [if they acknowledged Him openly] they would be put out of the synagogue (excommunicated); for they loved the approval of men more than the approval of God. John 12:42-43 AMP (Boldness added)

 You may think, “But they believed that Jesus was the Savior and Messiah, so what was the problem? Isn’t salvation all about faith?” True, saving faith will be proven by our words and actions, for God’s Word also states: 

 if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lordand believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.Romans 10:9-10 ESV (Boldness added)

 Regrettably, our fear of man can cause us to remain silent rather than confess to others our belief that Jesus is Lord. Our silence is an indication that we, like the leaders in Jesus’ day, love the approval of men and women more than we love the approval of God. God warns us not to fear those who may be able to kill our body, but who cannot kill our soul. (Luke 12:4) We are to fear—to honor, to hold in awe and reverence-- only God Who has the power to destroy both body and soul (Matthew 10:28). 

 The world was turned ‘upside down’, the gospel of Christ spread throughout the world, and you and I are believers today only because the disciples overcame their fear of man and were instead filled with a holy fear of God. Following Jesus’ ascension into Heaven and the outpouring of the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus’ apostles Peter and John were willing to boldly confess that Jesus was the ‘Holy and Righteous One’ (Acts 3:14). Not only did they proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, they also courageously accused their audience of delivering Jesus over to Pilate, and that it was they who had ‘killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead’ (Acts 3:15). They went on to call the people to repentance in order that their sins might be blotted out and so that they would experience refreshing from the Lord (Acts: 3:18). Talk about being willing to be an offense to others for the sake of truth and the glory of God! Talk about being released from the snare of the fear of man! (Proverbs 29:5) 

 Even though they knew that they could be imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for their faith, they did not allow that to stand in the way of their sharing the life-transforming news of the gospel. In fact, because they overcome their fear of man, “…many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” Think of how many people they will spend eternity in heaven with because they were willing to offend them for the sake of the gospel! How many people will be in heaven because of you boldly declaring the gospel?

 Shortly after this incident, Peter and John were jailed, and then released and commanded by the Jewish leaders—the very ones who were behind Jesus’ crucifixion—‘not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.’ What was their response? Did they cower in fear and defer to men-- men they knew had the power to destroy their bodies? No! Instead they declared: 

 Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20 ESV

 When we know God through His written Word, have a personal relationship with Jesus, the Living Word, and are willing to fully surrender our lives to His authority in every aspect of our life, we too will be empowered by the Holy Spirit and compelled to speak to others of Jesus, the One and Only Person Who can deliver us from all of our fears and keep us truly secure… for all eternity!

 The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high. Proverbs 29:5 AMP

 Have you ever found yourself telling a ‘white lie’ so that you don’t hurt others’ feelings rather than accurately representing Jesus by speaking the truth in love and trusting Him with the outcome? Do you remain silent in the face of those whom you suspect will be offended if you share your faith in Jesus? Do you care more about what others think of you than you do about pleasing God? Ask the Holy Spirit to release you from all ‘fear of man’, to empower you to be bold like Peter and John and the other disciples, and be willing to confess before everyone without regard to personal cost that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God! 

 Lord, forgive me for succumbing to my fear of man. I ask you to release me from all fear of men and to fill me with a holy fear of You! Empower me by the Holy Spirit at work in me to be bold like Peter, John, and the other disciples and willing to declare my belief in and love for Jesus, and call others to repent and turn to You so that they too can have the Truth that will set them free and bring about true and lasting refreshing to their souls, for now and all eternity! 

Written by Julie

 

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?